I work for the Educational Recording Agency (ERA), which supports the education sector by making it easy for universities, and other education institutions, to harness the power of broadcast material for teaching and learning through a single, simple licence. ERA has traditionally had a very good relationship with the Higher Education (HE) sector in the UK - we license all universities and virtually all specialist HE colleges.
Technology has transformed the ways in which broadcast material is used in education, and the HE sector has been at the forefront of this movement. We are now working hard to ensure that the licence stays relevant to the sector, and to ensure that we're supporting educators to make the most of the licence their establishment holds. Here we'll give an overview of how the ERA scheme has adapted to technological change as well as some of the resources and benefits ERA offers the HE sector.
The ERA scheme started life in 1989 as a means of enabling educational establishments to legally record broadcasts onto video or audio cassette, to be played back in the classroom as part of a lesson or lecture. Recording and showing clips or extracts to illustrate a lesson was relatively fiddly and time-consuming to set up.
The situation is very different today; the concept of the 'VHS trolley' moving between lecture theatres and classrooms has given way to internet-based services that were almost inconceivable 25 years ago. Vast volumes of broadcast materials are now available as never before and students are frequently directed to watch certain clips or programmes in their own time rather than during a lesson or lecture.
This change was prompted by the evident desire of the HE sector for the ERA licence to accommodate the use of digital technology. ERA's first step was to amend the terms of the licence to enable the conversion of analogue recordings on to digital media and licensees to record directly on DVD or secure server. The next step, taken in 2007 was the development of an add-on licence ('ERA Plus'), which enabled licensees to transmit recordings over secure networks to students studying off-site (for example, at home). This meant students could access the content they needed, easily and efficiently wherever they happened to be! ERA Plus was quickly adopted by the majority of the sector, and in 2014 this digital add-on licence was incorporated into a new single ERA Licence which enabled all licence-holders to access materials off-site.
Broadcasters all offer free on-demand services which can be accessed via television, computers or personal mobile devices. ERA Broadcast Members have all altered their terms and conditions to enable ERA Licensees to access these services for educational purposes (these were previously restricted to private and personal use only).
ERA has a long relationship with the British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council (BUFVC), now Learning on Screen, which promotes and supports use of broadcast materials at HE level. The ERA Licence continues to underpin the Learning on Screen backup service, Box of Broadcasts, more affectionately known as BoB, which enables subscribers to obtain copies of a vast archive of programmes. Other exchange platforms like Planet eStream and Clickview are similarly underpinned by the ERA Licence.
Using a broadcast resource as part of your educational delivery can bring numerous benefits. For example, students can find broadcast resources more accessible and engaging than traditional resources and lecturers find using programme clips to be a valuable jumping off point for discussion or means of developing critical thinking. Case studies show that the use of ERA material is extremely varied and creative with many staff developing highly inventive ways of using material. For example, one academic uses clips from 'Avatar' to enliven studies on land law and another uses clips from 'The Simpsons' as an example of 'pester power' in marketing classes. You can find our range of case studies on the resources section of our website, http://era.org.uk/resources-case-studies/case-studies
Going forward we're planning a major relaunch of our 'ERA Learning' resource site, allowing educators and students alike to find a vast array of programming relevant to their specific field and level of study and directing them straight to the source of those recordings. Not only will visitors to the site be able to search for relevant programmes, they will also be able to find examples of how broadcast materials can be used to enhance teaching and learning. If you're using broadcast material to teach creatively, why not leave a comment below letting us know what broadcast you're using and how - we'd love to showcase your work!
About the Author
The Educational Recording Agency represents 21 Member organisations from across the creative sector including UK broadcasters. The ERA licensing scheme supports educational establishments in the UK by enabling them to make copies of broadcasts from radio or television for educational use. The licence also enables access to online or on-demand services. Alyson Maclaren is ERA's Licensing Manager and describes here just some of the innovative ways televsion & radio programmes can be used to inspire students and improve learning outcomes.